Op-Ed: “Morality Tale at a Cafe in the Village” Justin Wood and Shaun Abreu Respond to New York Times’ Story About Heroic Sanitation Truck Driver

July 2, 2024

Climate and Energy Justice, Community Justice, Environmental Justice, Health Justice, Media Coverage, News, Waste Equity

The red brick facade of a New York City building, with many fire escape stairs visible. The angle is looking up at the building, as if from the street.

Our Environmental Justice team, NYLPI Director of Policy Justin Wood and Shaun Abreu, New York City Council Member and Chairman of the Sanitation Committee, responded to a New York Times article about sanitation worker Angelo Cruz, shedding light on the conditions and after-effects of commercial waste on our environment and on sanitation employees.

“Your story describes the challenges of Angelo Cruz’s job as a private sanitation truck driver — but there is a bigger story behind the hazards that he and thousands of workers face nightly. New York City’s commercial waste companies have strong incentives to cut costs as they compete for customers, and too often these employers cut corners by pressuring workers to complete grueling and chaotic overnight routes and handle improperly disposed hazardous waste. That’s why a coalition of labor, environmental justice, and climate advocates has called for reform. In response, the City Council passed a law in 2019 mandating a new Commercial Waste Zones system to limit the number of private waste companies operating in each neighborhood and to cut millions of unnecessary miles traveled by garbage trucks. The Sanitation Department has now promised a transition to the new system. We’re pushing the city to hold the private sanitation industry to the highest labor, safety and environmental standards as that transition begins.”

Subscribers can read more letters to the editor via The New York Times.

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